Marine Research Student Colloquium


Friday, October 22, 2021 and Saturday, October 23, 2021 

Virtual Keynote Speaker

Brian Bowen, Research Professor
Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa


from ancient mariners to future biodiversity 

The presentation covers the application of genetics to marine conservation in three 20-minute modules. Part 1 uses the Orlog metaphor from Norse mythology to examine the multiple roles that genetics plays in marine conservation, with examples from the Hawaiian Archipelago. Conservation programs must protect the threads of life as the arrive from the past (phylogenetics), thrive in the present (ecology) and project into the future (evolution). These three goals are embodied by the Norn sisters of Norse mythology, whose names correspond to past, present, and future. The phylogenetic and ecological goals are firmly embedded in conservation, but preserving the materials for future biodiversity is a new and exciting frontier.

Part 2 is a case history on how genetics has reshaped the conservation of sea turtles. In one of the earliest applications of DNA data to conservation issues, mtDNA studies demonstrated that reproductive behavior in sea turtle is guided by natal homing. After a maturation period spanning decades and thousands of kms, sea turtles return to the vicinity of their natal beach to mate and nest, as indicated by strong (and sometimes diagnostic) shifts in haplotype frequencies between nesting colonies. Each nesting colony is an isolated management unit which will thrive or perish without input from other nesting colonies. In some cases, mtDNA haplotypes serve as barcodes to indicate the natal origin of turtles impacted by fisheries and other human activities.

Part 3 is focused on future evolutionary diversity, in particular the origins of tropical marine biodiversity. The Coral Triangle between Indonesia, Philippines, and New Guinea hosts the highest marine biodiversity on the planet, including >75% of worldwide coral diversity and >35% of reef fish diversity. Phylogenetic studies reveal that more than half of the reef fishes in the Indo-Pacific have origins in the Coral Triangle biodiversity hotspot. On the edges of the Indo-Pacific, peripheral habitats including Hawaii and the Red Sea have much lower diversity, but high levels of endemism (species found nowhere else). It was long assumed that these endemism hotspots were evolutionary dead-ends that received species via colonization, but did not export new species. However, recent phylogeographic studies have demonstrated that these endemism hotspots can both receive species from biodiversity hotspots, and export new species, in a process labelled biodiversity feedback.

Event Sponsors

College of Charleston's Graduate Program in Marine Biology

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum

Charleston Chapter of Sigma Xi

Charleston Audubon and Natural History Society



pp-museum-logo         Logo for Audubon Society

Colloquium Keynote Speakers to date

The Marine Research Student Colloquium of the Graduate Program in Marine Biology (GPMB) was established in 1998, to increase awareness of research activities by students and faculty affiliated with GPMB; to provide graduate students with experience in making scientific presentations; and to promote interactions among faculty and students conducting research in marine biology.

The following distinguished researchers joined us as keynote speakers in previous years:

2019       Dr. Sheila N. Patek, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University    

2018       Dr. Sandra Brooke, Florida State University

2017       Dr. Billie Swalla, University of Washington

2016       Dr. David Hastings, Eckerd College

2015       Dr. Daniel Huber, University of Tampa

2014       Dr. Dean Grubbs, Florida State University & Coastal Marine Laboratory

2013       Dr. Felicia Coleman, Florida State University & Coastal Marine Laboratory

2012       Dr. Thomas Near, Yale University

2011       Dr. John Bruno, University of North Carolina

2010       Dr. Win Watson, University of New Hampshire

2009       Dr. Erik Sotka, CofC & Dr. Geoff Scott, Hollings Marine Laboratory

2009       Dr. Steve Palumbi, Hopkins Marine Station & Stanford University

2008       Dr. James T. Carlton, Williams College & Williams-Mystic Program

2007       Dr. Peter Wainwright, University of California, Davis

2006       Dr. Jeffrey Levinton, State University of New York at Stony Brook

2005       Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai, University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School

2004       Dr. Malcolm Shick, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine

2003       Dr. Walter Boynton, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Univ. of Maryland

2002       Dr. Larry Crowder, Duke Marine Laboratory, Duke University

2001       Dr. Lauren Mullineaux, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

2000       Dr. John Pearse, Institute of Marine Science, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz

1999       Dr. Ken Tenore, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland


Additional Resources

  • Guidelines for talks and posters for presenters